Wow it’s my one hundredth post! I wasn’t going to say anything but then I remembered that’s what blogs are for. I’ll try to keep this humble, though.
First, I want to thank my billions of fans. You guys–gosh, I’m tearing up–you guys really get me. You understand! You know that I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to feel pressured. That’s why you never bombard me with messages down in the comments! Or speak to me at all! And you know I’m a frugal guy, too; that’s why you all enjoy my work without paying me much money!
Thank you! As a reward for your understanding I made another fake Hearthstone card. This one is Parlay:
Once again I forgot to write down where the picture was from but man–I can’t believe there’s a real guy out there with hair THAT poofy. He even looks all bitter and calculating.
The effect I came up with even reflects his body’s static nature. I made it paladin since it would seem most useful there. You could cast Equality and then bump the health back up to five. Not to mention all the damage from minion attacks you could just undo. The downside is that any buffs like Blessing of Kings would be erased as well.
Speaking of things that are probably just going to be erased: let’s continue with the story!
24 – Everyone to Blame
Tyle’s bus idled at the wreckage of Shirka’s old house. The Enpo had left muddy tracks leading out of the spot that lead to the other world. The remaining wood planks and metal scraps now marked the approximate area with radiating arrow shapes.
“So who’s going back?” Tyle asked through the speakers. He looked at Trisk through the rear view mirror in the cab.
“I can’t leave Mackaba here,” Mean said. “Trisk, can you give me King’s ring?”
“Don’t even act like I’m not going with you,” Trisk replied.
“Don’t know how much help I’ll be;” Vornis said with a groan, “I’m still pretty beat up.”
“Are you kidding?” Tyle said. “None of you are coming back with me?”
“Hey I am!” Jelk said. “And Darrow too. Right, man?”
Darrow stepped over to stand next to Trisk. Tyle rose an eyebrow at him through the mirror. “I’m gonna stay with these guys.”
“Huh? Why?” Jelk asked. “They’re great at using magic and we’ve got nothing. Nothing that would help them, anyway.”
“Yeah that’s why I’m going with them,” Darrow said. “They always look out for me.”
Jelk fumbled for words, winding his tuft of hair around in his fingers.
“You heard him,” Trisk said. “Tenny, how about you?”
“I don’t think I should get mixed up in this,” he replied. “I need to get back, make sure everyone at home is all right. You use that ring if things get to dangerous though.”
“Yeah I’ll use it,” Trisk said. “No problem.” She marched down the miniature stairway leading down from the passenger bed. Mean, Darrow, Vornis, and Dark followed.
“Thank you for riding with Tyle’s Travel!” Tyle said. He watched and waved at the group as they departed. He clicked off the speakers for a moment. “Why did that last guy look like Lord Ley Tecker?” he asked himself.
“So how are we getting over there?” Vornis asked. The cloudy column blocked their passage to the south; the edges of the tower’s ring jutted out from either side of it.
“I’m on it,” Mean said. She was headed over to a large piece of the house that hadn’t been dismantled. It was the concave door to the inner chamber. “This seems big enough to hold everyone. I can fly us over there no problem.”
Tyle’s bus moved off; Jelk and Tenny called out goodbyes.
“And now they’re all sitting in a bowl,” Tyle muttered, taking one last look through the rear-view mirror. The cliff ahead compressed, with the starry sky compacting upon it along with the pillar of cloud, inverted. A new sky unfolded as the previous features winked out, revealing a dusky evening tinging a hilly horizon with orange.
“Dang it got late,” Tyle said. The vehicle’s headlights snapped on. “Need to find out where King went. He’s not gonna believe all this.”
He drove on through the trampled plain toward the pyramid’s ruins, failing to see the former Lord Ley Tecker struggling to gain his attention in the dark.
The left half of the chandelier was creeping into view as the concave door hovered along the perimeter of the gaseous area. Mean sat in the back, guiding it forward. The others were settled before her.
“What are you going to do with me once we get there?” Elder Sain asked.
“I guess we’ll need your help,” Mean replied. “Trisk, you can get that armor off him, right?”
“No,” Elder Sain snapped. “Don’t remove it.”
Trisk folded her arms. “You’ve been begging me to let you out.”
“I was wrong,” Elder said. “If Shirka has the attention of the other worlds she’ll have enough power to recreate the armor, the chandelier, and all its devices from my guilty memory.”
“Can’t she just use the others for that?” Dark asked.
“And she already made it!” Darrow pointed out.
“I know that,” Sain said. “But I’m the only one that knows how it works. Zonzabee made me before the others, and I helped her build the equipment that Shirka is using up there. We can destroy it, but if my mind is exposed then she can just recreate it again.”
“I see,” Mean said. “Even if we bust them all out of the armor Shirka can just make more armor and catch them again.”
“Right,” Sain affirmed. “I need to stay in here so you people have a chance. If you can take control of the machine that opens the ways to the other planets we can get everything fixed. Then once Shirka is dead we won’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Mean looked over at Dark, then back at Sain. “Dead? You really think we need to kill her?”
“It’s the law of Arsiling,” Elder said. “She broke the rules, just like Shrine Haas did when he intruded on her world five years ago.”
Mean nodded. “Whittler told me about that. That’s who Templetine was. So you executed him just because he tried to win a tournament?”
Elder scoffed, looking down into the glass and the clouds below. “The containment suits were the only thing keeping them in line before we escaped. Without Zonzabee I knew we needed some kind of law to follow. Something severe. To keep things like this” —he nodded out at the tower and the rows of tanks lining up beneath it —”from happening.”
A fat man walked down the zeppelin gangplank: his face glowing through the plastic window in his hazmat suit. The tone was deep purple with a yellow spot above each eye. A larger circle adorned his bald head.
“Looks identical to the dock we stole this ship from,” came his muffled remark. As he cleared the plank he tilted back to scan the balloon overhead. Ash was flaking from the tarp as it burned above him. “Better hurry with those rafts; that blaze sure isn’t going to quit on us.” Some acknowledgments crackled back from the inside of his helmet and he jogged down the dock toward the bright interior of the tower. The suit’s material squeaked as he went.
“The inside of the place is filled with oxygen too,” he uttered, staring at the tool-laden pillar and the scattered slabs. Beebee was searching for something in the shallow water, taking no notice of him.
“Well look what I found!” the man said. He placed a large boot on the slab that Paldomir was held against.
“Oh this is just superb,” Pladomir groaned. “Blan, whatever brings you here?”
“I think you know,” Blan said. “We had to ignore the lockdown order to come after you.”
“Gracious, they declared martial law just for me?” Pladomir cooed.
“It’s that woman that claimed to be your sister,” Blan said. “Everyone wants to find her, everyone wants to get here, and most of all—no one is buying any product from us!”
“My dear fellow,” Pladomir began, “the product is the least of our worries.”
Blan reached down and tugged on Pladomir’s armor. It held fast. The dock behind him flared as the zeppelin sac rippled and folded in on itself. It strained against the frame of the balloon for a moment before collapsing; the ship dropped from the dock in a fiery mass. Three people in hazmat suits were left where the end of the gangplank had been. They all had large backpacks strapped to them.
“We gave up too much to come after you,” Blan said. “You’re going to tell me how to get you out of this thing and you’re going to put things back the way they were!”
Pladomir let out a laugh. “Ha! Don’t you think I’d love to tell you how to do that?”
He sniffed, wrinkling his mustache and looking back up at him with his pale reddish visage. A clank sounded in the room as Mean, Dark, Darrow, Trisk, Vornis, and Elder Sain landed the concave door they were riding.
Blan let go of him and stood to full height. “Who are these people?” he asked. “They don’t all have suits.”
Elder Sain stumbled out of the makeshift vehicle. “Beebee, you’re safe!” he exclaimed. “What happened here? Where is Shirka?”
“Oh, Elder,” Beebee sniffled. She put down the tool in her hand and turned to him. “She put everyone back in their suits; she told me to leave or she’d kill them; then Alvy tried to stop her but she took him, she took him.”
“You came for us!” Cougo cried in a congested voice. The blood was dried in a smear across his cheek. “Sain, you need to stop her!” He peered over from his slab, sideways at Dark and Darrow as they stepped off the door. “Oh no not you guys,” he moaned. “Sain, watch out for them!”
“Cougo, I really need you to be quiet right now,” Elder demanded. He looked to the pillar and the tools that remained affixed to it.
“Sure is bright in here,” Mean said. Dark helped her step down from the curved side of the door. Her shoe squished against the slick floor. “Water? Dark, do you think—?”
“I don’t see him,” Dark replied. He scanned the room, looking over the suits of armor and stopping at Bran.
“Who’s that guy in the poncho?” Bran asked.
“How should I know?” Pladomir groaned.
Darrow stayed in the tub, wobbling as Vornis got out.
“Dang,” Darrow said as he pointed over at Slaberdashia’s splayed body. “Look at that one!”
“Yeah, I met her already,” Vornis said. “Thought the others would be about the same size. Guess she’s the biggest out of all of ’em.”
“Ha!” Clance uttered.
“I told you—quiet,” Elder said. “Wait. Here it is.”
He removed a measuring scale from the pillar and handed it over to Beebee. She set her fingers on the pressure plate, held it down, and released. Every slab released its victim and the siblings clattered in their armor, rising to their feet.
“My apologies; must be going,” Pladomir stated to Bran. He rolled from his slab, sprang up, and started toward the pillar. Bran started after him, stopping himself as he watched the other siblings gather: Cougo and Clance both standing two feet taller than Dark and the rest, with Slaberdashia’s body larger still.
“Boys, I think maybe we bit off a bit too much this time,” Bran admitted.
Elder Sain nodded at Beebee and looked at the others, trapped in armor. “I’m sorry,” he said. “It seems that Shirka has had this power for a while. I was unable to keep the knowledge of this place from her.”
“You can undo our predicament, correct?” Pladomir asked.
Elder Sain held up a hand. “We need to be cautious about our words,” he began. “Shirka can’t reach into our minds while we’re trapped in the armor, but she can still see into these others.”
“So let’s get them out of here,” Cougo suggested. Sain glared at him.
“We’re not doing that because we might need their help,” he said.
“We do,” Beebee said. “Before Shirka left she told me something.” She pointed over at Mean. “She wants that woman—her name is Mean—to fly up to the top of the tower to meet her.”
“You’re kidding,” Dark said. “We just found her—I’m not letter her take her again!”
He put his arm around Mean. Slaberdashia looked down at them, tilting her head.
“Aw, how cute,” she said.
“I know,” Beebee said, “but Shirka took Alvy and Calm with her. She says she’ll kill Alvy unless Mean shows up.”
“Who is Alvy?” Dark, Vornis, and Sain asked at once. Mean looked up at Dark.
“Wait, I know that name,” she said. “Mackaba! When I checked into the prison—I had to give his full name.”
“Yes, that’s right,” Beebee said. “He was fighting to save us from Shirka.”
“He was what?” Dark spat out. “Mackaba? He’s never—“
Beebee cut him off. “Please don’t. I can see thoughts, just like my sister. I know you and your girlfriend feel proud about the times that you beat him. I already know he’s hurt you both. But he really was fighting for us.”
“I don’t think he was fighting for all of us,” Clance admitted with a smile. “Beebee just has that effect on people.”
Beebee gasped. “Oh! Elder, Shirka was wearing her suit too.”
“So that’s how she surprised me,” Pladomir groaned.
“But she had to take off the helmet,” Beebee said. “She had to use it to trap Alvy. That way he couldn’t use his magic.”
“She’s vulnerable, then,” Sain stated. “Beebee, can you sense her?”
“Yes, she’s still high above us.”
Mean shielded her eyes from the bright lights on the ceiling, looking toward a vertical passage extending upward.
“She set it up thinking you would be the only one able to follow her,” Dark said. “I’ll go up with you.”
“Think you can carry me?” Trisk asked.
“She needs to stay here,” Sain said. “She’s the only one that can release us besides Shirka.”
Cougo stared down at Trisk. “That little thing?” Clance thumped him with his fist.
“She has some weird power. Something I haven’t seen on any of our worlds.”
Trisk hummed, tugging on her robe’s collar. “I guess I’ll help you guys out.”
“I’ll stay with Trisk,” Darrow stated.
Vornis grunted. “Me too. Someone has to keep an eye on these guys.”
“Alright,” Mean said. She tugged her ‘King’s Fair’ shirt straight. “We’ll go up and stop her. Again.”
“Please save Alvy,” Beebee expressed. “Even if you do have to hurt Shirka to do it.”
“Yeah, we’ll bring him back,” Mean said. “And, uh, sorry about”—she pointed at her face—“the whole thing with the tray of rolls.”
Beebee touched the bruise at her cheek. “It’s fine; don’t worry.”
Mean nodded. She reached for Dark’s hand and he clasped it. They both rose into the lights at the ceiling. The pair flew up through a cylindrical shaft, leaving the bright room below them.
“Elder didn’t press you to kill Shirka again,” Dark said.
“Yeah I noticed he got quiet,” Mean replied. “Either he thinks we can’t do it—“
“Or he has his own plan,” Dark finished.
Mean jerked him sideways; an object was directly above them in the shaft: a long rocket held in place with struts.
“Thanks,” Dark said. The two rose along the wall together, studying the metallic hull and the markings painted there.
“Looks like that crashed ship outside,” Mean uttered.
Tecker opened his mouth to say something; a scream sounded from above.
A man was falling from aloft; his arms and legs flailing and his back pointed down. Mean reached out for him and he fell through her.
“What!? What!?” Mean shouted, pulling her arms back as the man dropped past. He plunged into the black pit below them. His screaming stopped.
“It’s not real, Mean,” Dark assured her.
“Alright. Okay,” Mean said. She clutched her chest. “Still scared the crap outta me.”
“Yeah me too,” Dark said. He squirmed in his poncho. “She’s just trying to drive us off.”
Mean took in a deep breath and let it out. “Let’s hurry up then,” she said. They both rose past the bottom of the ship, passing lettering that spelled out the ship’s name along with the flag of an unfamiliar nation. A ‘ping’ rang out from above: as they looked up they saw a man toppling backwards from a walkway. He swore, missing the railing with his outstretched arm.
“Oh just stop it!” Mean shouted. She darted out of the way and the man went screeching past as before.
“Looks like the top of the silo is closed,” Dark said. He pointed up at the walkway with the swinging door: it was inlaid in the shaft with the ceiling of an illuminated room glowing beyond it. “Go through there?”
“Yes; let’s just get away from that guy,” Mean said with a shiver. She took Dark’s hand and they flew up to the gate. The room they landed in was dim; lit by flickering lights and monitors placed at a desk against the side wall. A woman sat there.
“You think she’s real?” Mean asked. The woman kept her eyes on the monitors; diagrams and numerical values glared back.
“I told everyone to evacuate,” she blurted out.
Mean began to reply as a voice piped up behind her. She grabbed Dark’s arm and checked to see a man standing at the gate, now closed.
“Well you didn’t mean me,” the man replied. He was leaned against the gate and it held firm. At his back was the ship and an ovular airlock.
“It’s the guy that keeps falling,” Dark said.
The woman brushed at a braid hanging along her forehead. It was clasped with a cylinder on the end. “I need to proceed with the test. I can’t do that until all personnel evacuate.”
“Nope,” the man said. His hair was bound in a topknot, also with a cylinder. He folded his arms and bounced against the gate. It creaked, then let out a ping as it yielded: swinging open and sending him shrieking backwards into the silo. The woman stared over at the swinging gate with her mouth also wide open. She brushed at her fore-braid again.
“How awful,” Mean said. Dark held up a finger to his lips. A faint moan echoed up the shaft of the tunnel. A radio crackled at the monitor workstation.
“Can we proceed with the launch?” a voice chimed. The woman kept her eyes on the open gate.
“Help,” came the groan from below. The request from the monitor repeated. The woman turned back to it, holding down a switch.
“Ah, yuh—yes,” she stuttered. “Proceed with the launch.”
There was a clang as a large shutter fell; it separated the room from the silo, sealing it off. Dark jumped, finding Mean with her hand at her heart again.
“I think I’m ready to get out of here,” she stated.
The woman sitting at the console faded out. A new path appeared far to her left, away from the monitors and the shutter door.
“Daylight,” Dark said. They started toward the light; it lead to the outside again. The walls transitioned into brick buildings lined with windows and doors; the ground became pavement: an empty road. As he walked upon it Dark reached an open plaza that overlooked the plain and the surrounding cliff walls. The edge of the square had police cars lined up near the brink. It was there that Dark saw Mackaba chained to a parking meter. Shirka was seated atop one of the cars.
“Ha! I told you he’d come, Alvy, old boy!” Shirka laughed. Mackaba lifted his chin, staring out through the clear helmet encasing his head.
“We found him,” Dark said. “He’s still safe.”
Shirka crossed her legs, letting one bounce through the slit in her black dress. “’We?’” she asked. “I think you’d better check again.”
Dark looked to his left and saw no one there; Mean’s footfalls had ceased. He whirled; behind him the vacant passage was closing in on itself.
“Where is she!?” he demanded. Shirka slapped the roof of the car.
“She went the other way!” Shirka cried. “When that wall came down between you I made a copy of her next to you and a copy of you next to her.” She bit her lip. “She’s on her way to meet the real me right now.”
Dark lifted himself into the air, gazing at the glimmering walls of the tower. He began to move off.
“Going to leave little Alvy here alone, are you?” Shirka said. “Just like you left him in Hardpan?” Dark snapped his gaze back to her. Mackaba looked up at him, squinting.
“Lord Ley Tecker? Is it really him?” he asked. “It’s not a trick?”
“I can show you his memories if you want,” she went on. “There are some interesting ones in here—oh yes!”
“Shirka, where is Mean?” Dark demanded again. He twisted in mid-air and rocketed across the square at her.
“I can see one right now!” Shirka laughed. Dark landed on the car, putting his foot through Shirka’s image. Her giggling form blurred until it vanished from sight.
“Are you only pretending to care about her?” Shirka’s voice rang from above. “Because there’s one memory in particular that I just know she’d love to see. I believe it is from the future, yes?”
Dark swore and pushed off from the car. He landed on the street and reached for the helmet on Mackaba’s head.
“Good—you’re real,” Dark told him. A seam appeared in the helmet, widening across Mackaba’s started expression. The helmet snapped apart in two halves; Dark took them, swapped them around, and put them to his face.
“You were that armored thug!” Mackaba blurted out. “I knew it!”
Dark held out his hands from his poncho. “Mackaba, things are a bit more complicated than that,” he expressed.
“Oh, no, it isn’t,” Shirka’s voice rang. “Here, in my world, there is only guilt. And that simple fact dooms you all.”
Super-Quick First Draft Notes:
Everyone that doesn’t want to be in the finale goes home with Tyle –
What’s this? Jelk and Tenny LEAVE!? Get back here you cowardly knaves! No, no, I’m kidding; I don’t have anything planned for them. But is it realistic for them to do this? WOULD they leave if given the opportunity to do so? I think they would. Jelk and Tenny were kind of forced to go because of the surprise attack at the beginning of the story. Tenny–MAYBE Tenny would have stayed–but he lost his memories of Trisk. Since he really only cared about her he has no reason to stay.
Or perhaps I’m misleading you? What if everyone gets in trouble later!? What if they need some extra heroes to save the day!? Then Tyle can bust in Han Solo style! “LAUGH IT UP, FUZZBALL!” he’ll say while he tosses a crutch at Hellzoo from the window as his car passes by.
Mean and the others approach the chandelier:
Wow it’s a good thing Elder suddenly remembered that Trisk can’t break his armor or Shirka would just make more horrible things from his memories. I mean it’s not like I just came up with this as an excuse to keep his super-powerful ability out of the fight or anything….
The people driving the zeppelin dock the ship and evacuate before it implodes:
Yes, it IMPLODES. After reading The Subtle Knife I saw enough zeppelins exploding for one lifetime, I think. They were worthy descriptions, but now it’s time for something new!
Also, we learn that the pilot from Pladomir’s world is “Blan.” Unfortunately the creator of the story instantly forgets that and spells his name wrong for the rest of the chapter. What did I call him? “Bran?” Like the cereal? As in: Brann Bronzebeard, ruler of the Ironforge dwarves? Matt’s sister married someone with a similar name as well. It’s quite annoying when they pronounce his name and I think they’re addressing me. I think they’re saying “Brad” then they get to the final consonant and I feel disappointed. 🙁
Mean and Dark fly upward to face Shirka! :
Here they move through the tower, flying through a silo where a ship is being tested. This place is constructed out of a memory from someone on Cougo’s world. I was going to put more of these ‘memory rooms’ on the way up but this chapter, and story, seems to be running long. I suppose I’ll have to rely on the video game versions of Abandonment Party to expand on this idea.
Or I could just do it in Super Mario Maker. YES! I’ll have it ready by the time post number two hundred rolls around.
Dark is separated from Mean; Mackaba awaits on a balcony :
I REALLY wanted to keep going here but the chapter was just getting too big! And remember: I wasn’t going to have Mackaba be a part of this; it was just something that kinda happened. But now I see that this is a confrontation that MUST occur! Now that Mackaba sees the truth what will happen!? WHAT WILL HAPPEN~!? Find out–! Next time!